Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Homerville Scandal Still Talk of Town

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Homerville Scandal Still Talk of Town

Article excerpt

HOMERVILLE -- A month has passed since folks learned that

$250,000 disappeared from Clinch County's tax office, but talk

about the scandal still dominates discussions.

The missing money remains the topic of day in this timber town

of 2,600, whether it's discussed over eggs and coffee at the

Huddle House or during the lunch hour at Jimbo's Barbecue as

people munch on ribs and sliced beef sandwiches.

"I get a lot of questions about it, I sure do," Homerville

attorney Jeff Helms said. "You always read about it happening

somewhere else."

This time folks in Homerville are reading about friends,

neighbors and in-laws who face a Georgia Bureau of Investigation

probe and the possibility of seeing one of their own jailed.

GBI agents are investigating how $250,000 was siphoned out of

the Clinch County Tax Commissioner's office over the past three


A Waycross auditor has said someone diverted the money, mostly

timber tax receipts, in a "complicated and elaborate" scheme.

The payments, always made by check, were cashed but not reported

to the tax commissioner's office.

Clinch County commissioners asked for the audit after Tax

Commissioner Lottie Bruce discovered $30,000 missing from her

office in February. Bruce hired Helms to represent her, and

later booted two longtime workers from her office, saying

working conditions and their relationship had "deteriorated" so

much they no longer could do their jobs.

Even as commissioners consider next week whether to continue

paying suspended tax office employees Carolyn O'Quinn and Martha

Corbitt, County Attorney Berrien Sutton is mapping plans to get

at least some of the missing money back.

O'Quinn declined to answer questions this past week, and

Corbitt did not return telephone calls.

Sutton said he'll make claims with a pair of bonding companies

representing Bruce, O'Quinn and Corbitt. …

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